On Tuesday, members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors formally assessed the General Assembly’s recent session with a 94-page staff report whose overall theme is that things could have been worse.
County officials had pushed for only a handful of measures, including a law backed by Fairfax County’s police chief to strengthen law enforcement’s hand in dealing with crimes against the elderly. But the measure, sponsored by Del. Vivian E. Watts (D-Fairfax) and Sen. Mark D. Herring (D-Loudoun), died.in committee.
In a session marked by election-year maneuvering and tea party-driven debates on the size of government, Fairfax County lobbyists were working to kill others. But, of course, some unwanted bills got through.
County officials lobbied against a measure that would begin the process of amending the state constitution to prevent the use of eminent domain for the purposes of economic development. County officials felt the measure went too far.
Earlier this week, four Fairfax County delegates also wrote to McDonnell asking him to veto a bill that would require elementary and middle schools to devote 150 minutes to physical education a week, not including recess. The lawmakers say the bill is an unfunded mandate that will cost at least $18 million and money and reduce valuable classroom time.
But most of all, the county worked to make sure that Northern Virginia taxpayers see some of the money that they send to Richmond.
Since fiscal 2009, the commonwealth has reduced funding to local jurisdictions by $1 billion. This year, the governor’s proposed revisions to Virginia’s two-year, $78 billion spending plan would have cut $12.8 million to Fairfax County, while the Republican-led House of Delegates’ budget writers would have whacked $16.2 million, and the Democratic-led Senate proposed reducing funding to Fairfax by only $8.3 million. The compromise figure from the Senate and House budget conference was a $9.2 million cut.
“In some ways we dodged a bullet. But in some ways it still cost us$ 9.2 million to go to Richmond this year,” Supervisor Jeffrey C. McKay (D-Lee) said at Tuesday’s regular meeting.Virginia revenues coming back to Fairfax County have declined by a total of $34.2 million since fiscal 2009, according to county staff.
But the General Assembly also restored $12.4 million of the $18.7 million that had been cut in funding last year for sheriffs offices and police departments around the state.